For the past two seasons, Eastside Catholic’s volleyball team has turned one of its games into a recognition of coach Angie McKinnell’s fight with cancer, raising funds and awareness for the disease by playing a game dedicated to the No One Fights Alone campaign for cancer research.
Saturday, the goodwill extends to the lacrosse field.
The Crusaders, which reached the Division I state semi finals last year in boys Division I lacrosse, host 2013 playoff team Eastlake at Charlie Acosta Field in the season opener for both teams with much more than a 1-0 record on the line.
Before the season began, EC captains approached new head coach Gordon MacIlvennie and school administration about hosting a No One Fights Alone game, similar to what has happened on the volleyball court the past two years. The motto is part of the Choose Hope movement, which supports cancer research and provides various avenues to support for those fighting the disease.
Many lacrosse players have been avid supporters as the school’s volleyball coach has battled cancer, and with a classmate recently diagnosed with ovarian cancer, they saw the opportunity to once again stand with one of their own through a difficult time.
“We were all-in,” MacIlvennie said. “It’s an awesome concept and great the boys took it upon themselves to follow and support their fellow classmate.”
For Eastlake, the cause is also close to home.
Chuck Lee, an assistant with the high school program, passed in February after his own battle with cancer, and after a career as a teacher and coach in the area.
Saturday, his legacy will also be present at the event.
“It’s a great opportunity,” Eastlake coach Chris O’Dougherty said. “He was a jolly guy, and all the guys learned passion for lacrosse and passion for life from him.”
When it comes to the game, MacIlvennie said spirited competition would be the most fitting way to honor the memories and struggles of those battling cancer.
“They are always special games, and hard fought,” MacIlvennie said of contests between the three Sammamish schools. “It just means so much to the players, coaching staffs and each school to start one of many No One Fights Alone events on the Plateau.”
O’Dougherty said his players approached him last year about having Lee on the sidelines for a game, something he quickly found carried meaning beyond the white lines of the field.
“He was motivation for all of us,” O’Dougherty said. “You never would have known he had cancer. He carried himself above it all, and he was a true inspiration for our players.”
Saturday’s event begins with a JV game at 4:30 p.m., with the varsity game slated for 6:30, and a pre-game barbecue will raise funds for Seattle Children’s Hospital and the American Cancer Society.